How to Improve Your Thai Speaking Ability

A reader recently sent me the following question.  I have posted my response below.
I’ve been living here in Thailand for 2.5 years now, and
have been learning on my own for about 3 years now. Reading
is probably my strongest point, but I would say when it comes to speaking,
specifically grammar maybe, I can get by okay but definitely not there yet.
Any tips for someone who’s been in it for a few years, def. has some grasp on it,
but wanting to really try & step it up to the next level?
At this point you need to start becoming hyper-aware of where the holes are in what you can already do.  We have a tendency to revert to what works and what’s comfortable even though we may have been thinking bigger a moment ago.  I do it too sometimes.  Every time you are in a situation and want to say something, but have no clue how to, write it down and find out.  Find out = ask at least 5 Thai people and maybe 1 or 2 farang who might know.  Then go use it as soon as possible.  This is how I got past the plateau.  All flashcards and tools aside, the only way I could be sure to remember anything was if went and used it and either I remembered it, or I screwed up horribly and felt embarrassed.  Either way, it should often stick.   A lot of stuff will just end up in your head without you being aware of how or when you learned it, but doing this should  give you a nice pile of sentences that you will very likely remember and probably have some good stories to tell.
That’s general advice.  Here’s something more specific you can actually go and do on your own right now.  Skim through my 100 sentence project  and make sure you can say all those sentence patterns perfectly.  If you can’t, or if you don’t know any of them very well then pick out the pattern and go to a site like guru.google.co.th/guru/(*Update: This site was unfortunately shut down) or any other site where people go to ask dumb questions and search for the main part of the pattern.  Then read tons of examples, pick out one or 2 that is relevant to you (or make your own if there aren’t any) and then go out and use it. It’s really easy to manipulate most people into talking about whatever you want.  It’s also ok to just go completely off topic and talk about planets or whatever.  I used to do it all the time.
To summarize, keep reaching, do at least 30 minutes every day (keeping track will help) and you will progress.  You have to think big with languages because you can’t really do anything in just 1 day other than actually go out and interact with people that can really make a difference.  It all becomes a drop in the ocean, and so you need time to fill up the ocean.
Getting good at a language takes a long time and once you get past the initial fun stuff, progress seems to slow to a crawl.  You have to create and maintain a passion for it throughout which in turn helps to keep the discipline to do something about it every single day.  There aren’t any language hacks or secret short cuts.  It takes a long time to cover all the ground necessary to get awesome.

 

Comments

  1. hi white guy my problem is only want speak english thai to my life a little easyer hope you can help

    • Graham, learning to speak Thai will make your life easier. Learning to read Thai will make learning Thai much easier. It all works out.

  2. Andrew Pang says:

    I have lived in Bangkok for 5 years 30+ years ago and managed to speak Thai. I regret very much I did not spend time to learn Rea and write. Throughout these years I keep up my Thai by watching lakorn. I started my self study in reading and writing since May 2017 but found it very difficult. Any fast track tricks? I spend about 1 hour per day in writing and reading now.

    • Hey Andrew – You should really consider my course, which covers everything you need to know about the script and sound system. If you haven’t mastered all the sounds and the tone rules, this is what you need to do to move forward. An hour a day is plenty of time and you could cover it all in less than 2 weeks.

Speak Your Mind

*